Wednesday, June 29, 2016

title pic Hand-sewn Details on the “Diana Barry” Dress

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 25, 2012

The last few days I have been trying desperately not to be in the “depths of despair” (as Anne Shirley always said) about the fact that I haven’t posted pictures sooner!  Because the sewing progress I have made on the Anne of Avonlea gown project has been rather detailed and time consuming work, the bodice hasn’t hurried along as quickly as I was hoping for.  It’s not that I haven’t been working hard on the dress, it’s just that the last several steps have focused on details that don’t vastly change the overall appearance of the bodice from how it looked last week.

Nevertheless, I have thoroughly enjoyed the hand sewing I’ve been doing, and am very pleased with the way it’s coming together!

Below is a picture of how the inside seams of the bodice looked after I finished them.  Most were sewn by machine, but I finished the armsceye seam allowances by hand while watching “Anne of Green Gables”.

Next I finished the bottom edge of the bodice using the “prickstitching” method – this technique uses wider stitches on the inside and tiny, almost invisble stitching on the outside.

I used this same method for finishing the back opening edges which will soon be finished with a hook and eye closure.

With all raw edges hemmed or finished, I now turned my attention to the leg-o-mutton sleeve cuffs.  If you look closely at the film stills, you will see that the cuffs on Diana Barry’s going away dress are partially covered in a lovely embroidered netting lace.


There is a strip of this lace that goes down the side of the cuff, and I was determined to achieve the same look.  While that original lace would have been an English embroidered lace made from cotton netting, the only type I had available was a very similar pattern, but on a nylon net instead.   The netting lace was sewn on by machine using an invisible thread.

I had thought that the lower part would be so easy to sew, and it was easy until I tried to join the upper sleeve to the lower sleeve!  I had to gather almost forty inches of heavy bengaline into a tiny eight inch-wide cuff, which was a challenging task that the machine wasn’t up for.

So I handstitched the upper sleeves into the cuffs, then finished the raw edges by tucking the seam allowances into the cuff and whipstitching it closed by hand.

With the cuffs successfully attached I added button looping (one of my favorite sewing accessories!) to the cuff edges.  The looping was also attached by machine with invisible thread.

When it came to sewing on the buttons, I did splurge a little bit and chose some pearl-like buttons with Swarovski crystals in the center of each one.  I know this type would not have typically been used on gowns back then, but I couldn’t resist making the cuffs a little more whimsical and fanciful!

Lastly, I attached the lace collar to the neckline by machine, then prickstitched the seam allowances down towards the bodice to keep the seam allowances from being visible through the netting lace.

So all that’s left on the bodice is the lace flounce/trim which I will attach by hand, the shell buttons down the front, and the hook and eye closure down the back.  After that I will whip up the skirt, draft the belt, and get ready to have some pictures taken!

And in anticipation of the upcoming photo shoot I invested in a pair of Victorian high-laced boots which will no doubt add to the authenticity of the look.

More pictures to come soon!




title pic Diana Barry’s Bodice Underway

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 16, 2012

One of my favorite film costumes of all times is Diana Barry’s going away dress from Anne of Avonlea.   And I am so excited to finally sew a replica of this lovely Edwardian traveling gown!


“Diana, you look positively radiant!” Anne Shirley exclaimed as Diana prepared to ride off to her honeymoon.  And this was one time when Anne was not exaggerating with her superfluous language!  Diana’s going away dress was absolutely elegant with the bouffant leg-o-mutton sleeves, tight “v” belted waist, high lace collar, and pintucked bodice.

If you read last week’s post, you’ll know that I am attempting to blog about the progress of this dress while I sew it.  I prefer to only post pictures once I can actually see the finished project, but for this dress I am making an exception since I know so many other ladies have admired the costumes from this classic Edwardian film.


So for “week one” of this dress, you can see how I’ve made it at least half way through the bodice below.

After studying Diana’s on-screen outfit for a long time, I decided that I could take a standard Edwardian shirtwaist pattern and slice it up a bit to suit the needs of this project.  (I used the “Beatrix” shirtwaist pattern from


My first step for the bodice was to draw a line down the front of the bodice front to mirror the front princess seam shown in Anne of Avonlea.  Next, I slashed the pattern piece along this line and added 5/8″ to either side of the line so the bodice wouldn’t “shrink” after I sewed the two pieces together.  With these two bodice front pieces ready, I then widened the center panel by a significant amount to accomodate the necessary pintucks.  Below you can see what this panel looks like after it was sewn.


This center panel is a cotton voile over Bemberg rayon lining.

Notice how the panel widens at the bottom.  This is so that the costume will look just how it did in the film, where all the gathers which were so typical for the “pouter pigeon” look were only distributed through the center panel, leaving the side front panels straight.

With the center panel pintucked and pleated, I sewed the two front side panels to the center front panel and pressed it well.  (And of course, I always finish all my inside seams!)  Next, the bodice back was attached to the bodice front at the shoulder seams, at which point I sewed the bodice side seams.

With the most basic part of the bodice now completed, I now turned my attention to the sleeves.  I knew that the lower portion of the sleeves would be a “piece of cake” to sew, but the upper sleeves looked a little tricky – that is, until I thought of using the sleeve pattern from the “Liesl’s Dancing Dress” pattern!


The billowy sleeves from the "Liesl" dress pattern turned out to be perfect for the top portion of Diana's leg-o-mutton sleeves.

All I had to do was add a little more in the cap area for gathers and narrow the sleeve width a couple of inches, and I arrived at a sleeve very close to the film costume version!  (It will look almost identical once I have the lower sleeve attached to support the upper sleeve and keep it in place, but for now the sleeves just hang there.)

As you can see, I have only draped on the lace up till this point so you can get an idea of how the bodice is coming along.  I still need to add the shell buttons down the front of the mock placket, finish the sleeves, and attach the lace… but all in all I’d say I have at least a good start on the dress!

Stay tuned for more pictures soon!

Happy sewing,



title pic Another Royal Wedding Dress Pattern!

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 13, 2012

Remember in fall of 2011 when Butterick released their collection of bridal patterns inspired by Princess Catherine and her fabulous wedding?  If you were reading the blog back then, you’ll remember the post I wrote in great detail about the differences and similarities between the original gowns and the pattern versions.  Butterick Patterns produced designs for the Royal Wedding gown , Pippa Middleton’s bridesmaid dress, and the classic flower girls’ dresses (B5731 , B5710, and B5705 , respectively).  These sewing patterns were beautifully reproduced with a few minor differences, and the photo stylists effectively made their models bear an uncanny resemblance to the actual Royal Wedding participants themselves.


You don't have to be royalty to dress like a princess!

But just recently, Simplicity has released a more loosely reproduced version of these patterns in what is quite unprecedented for Simplicity Patterns to design – it has been several years since they have offered any actual bridal gown patterns at all!  While their terribly simplified version of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress is nearly unrecognizable, the Pippa-inspired corresponding gown and the enormous blue engagement ring make the pattern unmistakably a royal wedding pattern without a doubt!

I am not putting Simplicity Patterns down for producing a wedding dress pattern which is so very different and less elegant than the original Sarah Burton gown – I understand that many seamstresses who may have been intimidated by the “advanced” sewing level of Butterick’s design can now feel comfortable sewing their own wedding dress which is merely inspired by the Duchess of Cambridge’s attire.  And I think it’s wonderful that Princess Catherine has so deeply affected brides all over the world that not one, but two major pattern companies felt the “Kate” phenomenan necessitated some royal dress pattern designs.


But the dress which I am really excited about is Simplicity’s version of Pippa’s gown!  The pattern designers took the original bias cut gown which was a bit too slinky for my liking, and raised the neckline a good three inches to make it completely modest to wear.  The Simplicity pattern is also not quite as fitted through the hip area, which would be much more forgiving and flattering than the Butterick version.  Both the wedding gown and bridesmaid dress pattern are published in the same pattern envelope, Simplicity 1909.

With a family wedding looming on the horizon, I must admit that I am tempted to consider using the new Simplicity pattern in the upcoming festivities…  But whatever dress pattern I choose, you can be sure I will change it to some extent, embellish it with Swarovski crystals and flowers, and post a dozen or so pictures when the joyous occasion takes place!

Happy sewing,